It was a night of firsts at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity League First Division as a debut goal from Sam Verdon and a first ever League of Ireland goal from local lad Tristan Noack Hofmann earned Longford manager Neale Fenn his first away triumph as Town boss.
Report by Kieran Burke.
With both sides long out of the title picture, a small crowd turned out at the South-East venue and perhaps the subsequent lack of atmosphere around the ground played a role in the first-half being played out in somewhat of a testimonial tempo. However, there were some early chances for both sides, with the hosts Wexford FC breaking in behind ”De Town” back-four on a couple of occasions early on. Shamrock Rovers loanee Aaron Dobbs looked a particular threat with his pace and power, while at the other end new Town signing Sam Verdon saw an early shot blocked on the edge of the Wexford penalty area.
The first major talking point of the game would come on thirty-six minutes when the away side took the lead. A good passing move from the team in Yellow saw winger Don Cowan receive the ball on the right-hand touchline before racing past his marker and delivering a pin-point cross to the head of debutant Sam Verdon, who couldn’t have asked for an easier opportunity to open his Longford Town account if he could have handpicked the pass himself! In fact, Cowan’s cross very well could have been going straight in to the Wexford net even without the finishing touch from Verdon’s header. Brilliant play from the 2014 First Division winner with Longford!
Without much worry or drama ”De Town” saw out the opening forty-five minutes and headed for the Ferrycarrig Park dressing rooms content with their lead, despite a less than dazzling first-half display.
Both sides appeared to pick up the tempo in the second half, but unlike
In the first half which was a reasonably even contest, Longford were now dominating with some nice passing combinations getting the small band of away fans excited.
As the pressure built on the Wexford goal, the corner count began to rise and it was from the small trident that Longford would claim their second goal on the night. A high-floated corner from the left, delivered by Jake Kelly, was punched aimlessly away by ‘keeper Corey Chambers, who was playing his second last game prior to heading for a college scholarship in the USA, and when the ball fell into the path of Hofmann, the youngster made no mistake with a crisp volley off his left-foot to put Longford into a position of real dominance after fifty-seven minutes of play.
With Longford now crushing, Fenn opted to make a couple of changes as Cody Mulhall and Kealon Dillon entered the fray in place of Sam Verdon and Karl Chambers. It must be noted that Mulhall was available for action just a couple of days after the sudden passing of his father, Cathal with a minutes silence observed before kick-off, while his Town club-mates wore black armbands on the night.
A Mulhall goal would have been well received, even among the home support on the night but events were about to take a sudden twist for the visitors when they not only conceded a goal out of the blue but then had substitute Dillon dismissed by referee Andrew Mullally. Wexford’s opening goal came on sixty-nine minutes as Thomas Croke was afforded far too much space from a throw-in before turning and taking a strike on from all of twenty-five yards as he beat Paul Skinner at his near post. After costing ”De Town” with a crucial error at home to Waterford one week previous, pressure may now start to mount on Skinner with many Town fans calling for young goalkeeper, Jack Brady to be given his chance between the sticks.
With Wexford’s tails now up they needed no encouragement but the man in the middle was determined to add to the drama when he sensationally sent off Kealon Dillon for what he described as an elbow. However, the referee seemed to be the only person in the ground to spot the offence, which only came after Dillon had essentially been rugby tackled to the ground by his Wexford opponent, who had successfully stopped a potentially dangerous Longford counter-attack, although he did receive a yellow card for his troubles.
Despite the numerical advantage, Wexford failed to test Skinner in the closing stages as ”De Town” held out for a nervy win in a game which manager Neale Fenn will have been disappointed his side could not see out in a more comfortable position. However, the three points have pushed Fenn’s charges back into fourth position in the league standings with Cobh Ramblers now just eight-points clear in third with seven games to play.
Next up for Longford is a home tie with fellow mid-table side Shelbourne, while a trip to St.Colman’s Park to face Cobh will follow that in a fortnights time.
Shannonside FM man of the man – Sam Verdon (Longford Town): An impressive debut from the former Pats man, who passed the ball well and grabbed himself a first goal in the process.
Neale Fenn the Longford Town manager caught up with Shannonside FM reporter Kieran Burke after the game